GHENT, WV (WVNS) — Buck firearms season has kicked off across the Mountain State, and many hunters are walking the woods looking for their next big buck.

While hunting can be an enjoyable and exhilarating outdoor tradition, it is also extremely dangerous if not approached with safety and respect taking top priority.

Of course, when dealing with any gun, it is important to use basic gun safety. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has provided the following list as their ‘Ten Commandments of Gun Safety’.

Ten Commandments of Gun Safety (WVNDR)

  • Treat every gun as if it were loaded
  • Always keep the muzzle pointed away from people and in a safe direction
  • Be completely sure of what and where your target is
  • Make sure your barrel and action remain clear of all obstructions
  • Make sure guns are fully unloaded when not being used
  • Never point a gun at anything you do not want to shoot
  • Never maneuver around challenging obstacles with a loaded gun
  • never shoot at a flat, hard surface or water
  • Store all guns and ammo separately
  • Never consume alcohol or mind-altering drugs before and during gun operation

Anyone who was born on or after January 1, 1975, must successfully finish a Certified Hunter Education Course before buying a base hunting license.

Before going out, hunters should check all weather forecasts for the area they will be in. Hazardous weather can make for potentially fatal conditions in challenging terrain. When checking what the weather will be like, it is also important to remind yourself of the land you will be utilizing.

Knowing boundaries between the land you are on and someone else’s land can mean a ton. It is also imperative to know which lands are private and which are public. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service advises all hunters to remain on land designated for hunting and on trails and terrain that are known and easier to get out of.

Even on private land where you may be the only one hunting, hunters are heavily encouraged to wear bright colors like blaze orange. According to the WVDNR, hunters must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange. This can done by wearing just a vest and a hat. This will help when it comes to always being sure of the target you are shooting at.

Being sure of the target you are shooting at is more important than ever when hunting with animals. When using dogs while hunting, hunters should always keep their animals close or know where they are at all times. If the dog goes out of sight, hunters need to have a vocal call to where the dog will return to them.

Another tip is always to be aware of what hunting seasons are currently in session. Occasionally, hunting seasons will run simultaneously, like the black bear and buck firearms seasons in West Virginia.

Information on where young and old hunters can attend a hunting education course in West Virginia can be found on the WVDNR’s website.

All hunters are encouraged to adventure safely when looking for their next trophy buck.